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College Changes as Workforce Needs Evolve

“I think what will impact and change Pennsylvania College of Technology is the demand of the workforce, in terms of what kinds of programs and services students will need to go out and obtain gainful employment in the workforce. I think the demands of business and industry are truly going to be the major influences that determine what our future will be.”

Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, interim president of Penn College, does not see a major “makeover” in the College’s near future, but she is committing to a continued enhancement of the College’s relationships with its students, the community, and business and industry.

A new main entrance to the Williamsport campus, expected to be completed in the coming year, will heighten the College’s connection with the general community. At the beginning of the 1997-98 academic year, the College acquired the former PBI property on Maynard Street; it will utilize those 14 acres to create a “gateway” to campus. Demolition of antiquated industrial warehouses on the site this winter will be followed by the addition of roadways, sidewalks and landscaping. The initial entrance work is expected to be dedicated in early summer 1999. While no new building construction is funded in the current development plan, it is anticipated that several new buildings will, eventually, become part of the new property. Gilmour says Penn College intends to move slowly and deliberately, ensuring optimal usage of the new land.

“Because we’re a landlocked institution, this has created for us an opportunity the College has not enjoyed in its entire history and that is to expand and grow,” she says. “There are at least four potential building locations (on the site) and that is wonderful for the College to have available for the future.”

The new entranceway will enhance Penn College’s marketability and accessibility, changing the character of the campus and its surrounding neighborhood for the next century.

An important development which will lead the College into the next century will be the naming of its new president. A permanent successor to Dr. Robert L. Breuder, who served as president from March 1981 through December 1997, is expected to be announced before the end of the 1997-98 academic year. A consulting firm has been contracted by Penn College’s Board of Directors to assist the Presidential Search Committee, comprised of Board, faculty, staff and student representatives, in the search process.

In the meantime, the College also will continue to do what it does best focus on its academic offerings and work in tandem with business and industry.

The outreach of Penn College’s Technology Transfer Center, which customizes training for business and industry clients and provides noncredit continuing education for adults already in the workforce, greatly complements the College’s academic programming which provides business and industry with its new workforce.

“It’s a complementary relationship and one that’s very important if you’re going to maintain a steady workforce which is prepared for the evolving changes in their respective technical fields and disciplines,” Gilmour comments.

In addition to business and industry needs driving the College’s future, the interim president points to two other trends which will impact the institution.

“The federal agenda’s commitment to providing tax credits and other incentives to make two years of postsecondary education available to all citizens should have a very positive impact as more than 80 of our majors are associate degrees or certificates (usually completed in two years),” Gilmour states.

“Additionally, the ‘school-to-work’ concept is spreading nationwide and is involving more business and industry leaders. That should bring more attention to Penn College, as these business and industry leaders see how successful we have been in partnering with industry throughout our history. We’ve been doing for many years those things that are now being heralded as the future of higher education. We are excited to be at the forefront of this nationwide movement toward cost-effective education that is accountable to the real needs of the workplace.”

She adds, “We will continue to be a key element of the economic vitality of Pennsylvania. We will maintain our position as the state’s premier technical college and remain committed to hands-on access to current and emerging technologies for our students.”

New academic offerings joining the College curricula in the current academic year are bachelor degrees in accounting, civil engineering technology, and printing and publishing technology, as well as associate degrees in banking, printing and publishing production, diesel technology/MACK emphasis, and heavy construction equipment/CAT emphasis. New competency credentials, all in the School of Hospitality, are available in dining room service, professional baking, and professional cooking.

Other new academic initiatives introduced this year involve evening and weekend classes and distance education. Providing these alternatives is intended to make education more convenient and accessible to many individuals especially adults seeking to continue their education while maintaining work and family responsibilities.

Coming on line for the 1998-99 academic year will be a bachelor’s degree in applied health studies and associate degrees in dietary manager and fitness specialist. Additionally, a new emphasis in travel and tourism will be offered as an option in the associate degree major in business management. Another new option will be the opportunity for baccalaureate degree students to declare a minor in financial planning or a non-degree student to enroll in the certified financial planner competency credential; both routes will prepare students to test for CFP certification exam.

Campus life also will continue to be in the spotlight at the College, which now operates two student housing projects: The Village, a 320-bed facility in its first full academic year of operation, and Campus View Apartments, a 330-bed complex purchased by the College last summer. Students in the College-owned housing complexes, as well as those residing in numerous privately owned developments near the campus, are increasingly energizing student life at Penn College.

Next season, women’s volleyball will join the Penn College Wildcat’s intercollegiate athletic lineup which includes men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s baseball, and women’s softball, as well as coed teams in archery, golf, tennis, and soccer.

Penn College views campus life and student activities as vital components to providing a well-rounded experience for its students. Those enrichments, coupled with applied technology academics, enable the College to graduate the leaders of the 21st century.

“Penn College will continue to focus on meeting immediate and long-term needs of business and industry,” Gilmour concludes. “We build our reputation on our ability to interact effectively with business and industry from the development of curricula, to the customization of training programs for specific industries, to the successful placement of our graduates in the workforce.”

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